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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bulgarian cabinet could face new fighter jet proposal

JAS-39 GripenIf Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev keeps to his stated intention, the scheduled cabinet meeting on June 24 could see a proposal tabled on the long-standing issue of the country acquiring new military fighter jets.

The issue has been unresolved for more than a decade, since Bulgaria joined Nato in 2004, and even now prospects are not certain given Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s stated reluctance to commit to spending on military aircraft acquisitions when his priorities are pensioners and the education system.

But it has become ever more pressing, especially given the large questions marks regarding Bulgaria’s ageing Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters, which are hugely expensive to repair and maintain, and about which a maintenance contract with Russia’s RSK-MiG – Nenchev repeatedly has signalled his reluctance to renew it – and which are, in any case, not up to Nato compatibility standards.

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